“The Washington Post condemned Reid for “smear tactics not unlike those of Joseph McCarthy,” which makes sense if you think that refusing to release your tax returns is like being unfairly accused of membership in the Communist Party. It’s a nice idea, that the majority leader of the United States Senate should operate under some rules of decorum about truth, even if it is only randomly applied.”
David Weigel is a Democratic flack posing as a political reporter, and my standards for his writing is low—but not this low.
The Post’s quite correct condemnation of Reid does not, as Weigel disingenuously suggests, amount to saying that “refusing to release your tax returns is like being unfairly accused of membership in the Communist Party.” It amounts to saying that publicly accusing a political adversary of evading his taxes for ten years using nothing more than hearsay from anonymous, dubious and unrevealed sources is like accusing a political adversary of belonging to the Communist party using similar tactics. Romney’s choice not to release his taxes doesn’t justify or excuse Reid’s smear, any more than McCarthy’s victims’ associating with Americans who exercised their Constitutional rights by espousing Communist sympathies justified McCarthy’s smear. Weigel is using a false and flawed analogy to excuse the inexcusable, because, like Reid, he’s on Team Obama.
But he doesn’t stop there. His last phrase, “if it is only randomly applied,” links to a speech by former GOP Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist advocating the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and referencing the “fact” that Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction.” This proves that Weigel is a dishonest reporter, an ethics dunce, and a partisan hack. The argument that the Bush Administration didn’t believe that Hussein had WMD’s has been thoroughly debunked, regardless of whether its belief was sufficiently well-founded (obviously, it was not, but that’s hindsight bias). The over-whelming majority of the Senate that approved the Iraq invasion all believed it too, including Democrats Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. For Weigel to insinuate that Frist was lying when there is only evidence that he was mistaken is worthy of Harry Reid. Moreover, even if Frist was lying, it doesn’t make what Reid said any less outrageous or unethical. Weigel is essentially appealing to multiple rationalizations here: “Everybody does it, “They do it too!,” “Tit for Tat,’ and “It’s not the worst thing!”
For a supposed journalist, Weigel’s quote is proof of disqualifying ethics rot. I enjoy Slate, but if it continues to employ writers like Weigel I may have to put it on the shelf with Breitbart as inherently untrustworthy.
Graphic: Librarians Matter
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